Who are Feras Antoon and David Tassillo? PornHub execs out as underage sex videos scandal rocks online giant

The two top executives will, however, remain shareholders of Pornhub's parent company MindGeek


                            Who are Feras Antoon and David Tassillo? PornHub execs out as underage sex videos scandal rocks online giant
Feras Antoon and David Tassillo resign from Mindgeek after allegations of non-consensual and under-age sex videos (Video screenshots from Antoon and Tassillo's testimony, March 2021/HelpUsFund)
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MindGeek chief executive Feras Antoon and chief operating officer David Tassillo announced their resignation from the company on Tuesday, June 21, amid mounting allegations of alleged underage and non-consensual videos on the site. The two executives are leaving the company but will remain shareholders, MindGeek said in a statement. The company also made an unspecified number of layoffs on Tuesday, June 21, according to social media posts from employees.

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"Antoon and Tassillo leave MindGeek’s day-to-day operations after more than a decade in leadership positions with the company. With the company strategically positioned for long-term growth, MindGeek’s executive leadership team will run day-to-day operations on an interim basis, with a search underway for replacements,” the company's representative said in a statement. The news springs up after the disturbing reports come out alleging the company for underage and non-consensual videos on MindGeek’s sites, which also include Brazzers, RedTube, and YouPorn.

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A New Yorker investigation published earlier in June centered on the plight of a 15-year-old British girl, named Rachel who struggled to have explicit videos of herself removed from Pornhub and other sites after they were uploaded without her consent. Rachel filed a complaint with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, a division of the UK’s National Crime Agency, but the organization was of little help.

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In March 2021, Antoon and Tassillo testified before the Canadian House of Commons Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics after an article was published by the New York Times 'Children of Pornhub' alleging the company of child trafficking. The testimony also included Serena Fleites, 19, a victim of sexual assault, whose videos were posted on Pornhub when she was 15. Pornhub didn't take her video down and profited from the video by sharing it on the website.

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Luxembourg-based MindGeek is also staring down a $600 million class-action suit filed last year on behalf of several alleged underage victims whose videos were reportedly shared on Pornhub without their consent. The class representative in the suit, which was filed in Canada, is a woman who alleges that a video of her rape as a 12-year-old was posted to Pornhub, and accused the site of denying her request to take down the video.

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The company also took a major hit in 2020 after Visa and MasterCard stopped processing payments for some of its sites due to concerns about illegal content. A MindGeek spokesperson denied that Antoon and Tassillo’s departures were related to recent reporting on the company and said that the “transition has been in development since early 2022.” “With the company strategically positioned for long-term growth, MindGeek’s executive leadership team will run day-to-day operations on an interim basis, with a search underway for replacements,” the spokesperson said.

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Who is Feras Antoon?

Feras Antoon, born on June 29, 1975, in Damascus, a city in Syria, is the co-owner of MindGeek. Antoon moved to Montreal to study engineering. He set up his first pornographic website, Mansef Productions, in the early 2000s with four other engineering graduates. Later on, he co-founded Brazzers, a website that includes a specific category of content on older women. Brazzers was set up by Antoon, Ouissam Youssef, Matt Keezer, and Stephane Manos. Its name is inspired by the Middle Eastern pronunciation of the word 'Brothers'.

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In April 2021, his house was set on fire amid reports of Pornhub containing rape and underage content. "I can't even count how many comments I saw from people saying to burn the company or my house down. For a while, it was easy to dismiss the tweets as just people on the internet talking. Then my house burned down," he told Vanity Fair earlier this year.

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Who is David Tassillo?

David Tassillo is the Chief Operating Officer of Pornhub’s parent. Tassillo and Antoon became the co-owners of MindGeek after buying it from businessman Fabian Thylmann in 2013. In October 2021, David Marmorstein Tassillo was named in the Pandora Papers which alleged that he concealed his identity in multiple tax havens. In October 2021, Tassillo told The Sun that "the transactions and structure were entirely appropriate". " To support the business, we established companies in Delaware, like many Fortune 500 companies, as well as Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands,” he said.

MindGeek is registered in the tax haven of Luxembourg. The company has offices in Los Angeles, London, Montreal, Cyprus, and Budapest, but its main office is in Montreal. The company employs around sixteen hundred people, and the online platforms it owns, which include Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, and Brazzers, received approximately 4.5 billion visits each month in 2020, according to a company spokesperson—almost double Google and Facebook combined, and on an average, its sites receive more than 115 million visitors each day, NewYorker reported.

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